5 Reasons You Need Back Extension Exercises in Your Strength Training Routine

Back Extensions


Do you include back extensions in your strength-training routine? The back extension is an effective exercise for targeting the lower back muscles, as well as the glutes. You can perform back extensions in several ways. Here’s the simplest:

  • Lie face down on a bench with your feet touching the floor
  • Lift your torso off the bench, so that only your upper back and head remain on the bench. Try not to arch your back as you lift your legs and lower torso. Keep it flat throughout this exercise.
  • Slowly lower your legs back down until you feel a stretch in your lower back muscles (this should take 3 seconds). Avoid letting your body collapse onto the bench – always keep the movement controlled.
  • Repeat 10 times, then rest 30 seconds before repeating again for 2 sets total.

You can also do back extensions on an exercise ball. It’s a bit more challenging as it requires good balance skills. But why would you want to include back extensions in your routine and what benefits do they offer?

Back Extension Exercises Help Counter the Effects of Sitting

If you’re like most people, you sit too much. Even if you do a structured workout, you sit for hours at work. Back extension exercises are important if you’re stuck in a chair all day or sit for long periods. Sitting in a chair or driving a car all day puts stress on the lower back muscles, causing them to weaken and shorten over time. Back extensions help stretch and strengthen the muscle in your lower body and counter the effects of too much sitting.

It Will Lower Your Risk of Lower Back Pain and Injury

The muscles that make up your lower back are called the erector spinae group. These muscles extend in your body from the base of the skull to the tailbone and help support your body weight when standing or sitting upright. Strong erector spinae muscles help keep your spine straight and protect it from injury. They also play an important role in other movements, like bending forward at the hips, rotating at the waist, and extending your legs behind you. Back extensions strengthen the erector spinae muscles for greater spine stability.

Lots of factors contribute to back pain including poor posture, lifting heavy objects with poor form, being overweight, being inactive, sleeping on the wrong mattress, sitting at a desk in an ergonomically unfriendly manner, and even wearing high heels. Although you should avoid these habits, strengthening your back will give you some protection against lower back pain.

Back Extensions Will Improve Your Posture

Poor posture is another issue that can cause back and neck pain. Back extension exercises will help build a stronger, more stable spine and improve your body alignment. Not only do back extension work your erector spinae muscles, but they also strengthen your core. A stronger core helps with body alignment.

How do you know if you have bad posture? Try this at-home posture test. Stand with your head, glutes, and shoulders, against a wall, and your heels 6 inches away from the surface of the wall. Ask someone to measure the space between your neck and the wall. If it’s more than 2 inches, you have poor alignment and need to work on improving it.

They Help Maintain a Healthy Muscle Balance

Too many people do hundreds of abdominal crunches and other ab-focused exercises and ignore the opposing muscles, the back muscles. Doing this can lead to muscle imbalances. And if you have bad posture, it further increases the risk of a muscle imbalance between the muscles in your anterior chain and posture chain.

The anterior chain consists of all the muscles that attach to your pelvis, while the posterior chain consists of all the muscles that attach to your backside. The two chains work together to create stability throughout your body as well as movement. If one side is stronger than the other, it’s like trying to lift a heavy suitcase with only one hand — it’s not going to go easily or smoothly!

If you do abdominal exercises, like crunches, doing back extensions prevent strength and muscle imbalances that negatively affect your functionality. Muscle imbalances can also affect how you perform on other strength-training exercises.

Back Extension Exercises Will Improve Your Flexibility

Flexibility is an important aspect of fitness, but often overlooked. Flexibility allows your body to move freely and without pain, which is essential for athletic performance and injury prevention. For example, many compound strength exercises you do when you strength train, such as deadlifts and squats, require flexibility of the spine. Studies show women don’t emphasize back extension exercises enough and have weak or tight back muscles.

Back extension exercises are an excellent way to improve flexibility and mobility of your back. They can help you achieve a deeper squat, better deadlift form, and improved posture too. So, adding back extension exercises to your routine can improve strength-training performance. Plus, the strength and flexibility you develop will make you more functional and improve your quality of life.

You’re Working Your Hamstrings Too

When you do back extensions, you work your hamstrings, the muscles in the back of your thighs, and your glutes too. So, you’re not just working your back, your hammies and glutes get some stimulation too. You don’t get direct hamstring and glute action, but they extend your hips when you do the exercise. So, you’re working more than one muscle in your posterior chain when you do back extensions. Some people say back extensions are an isolation exercise, but they work more than one muscle group.

The Bottom Line

Now you know why back extension exercises are so important. It’s because the health of your back matters and because you need back strength and flexibility to perform well on other exercises and improve your posture. So make sure you’re not ignoring the muscles that keep your back strong and stable.


  • “How to Do Back Extension Exercises – Healthline.” 01 Apr. 2019, healthline.com/health/back-extension-exercise.
  • Yaprak Y. The effects of back extension training on back muscle strength and spinal range of motion in young females. Biol Sport. 2013 Sep;30(3):201-6. doi: 10.5604/20831862.1047500. Epub 2013 Jul 22. PMID: 24744489; PMCID: PMC3944566.
  • “Take Our Posture Test: How to Tell If You Have Bad Posture.” 02 Nov. 2018, .csiortho.com/blog/2018/november/take-our-posture-test-how-to-tell-if-you-have-ba/.

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